When Bob and I started planning for this summer we had decided on doing a lengthy 10 or 11 night hike somewhere. We had the idea to do a long trip through the Washakie and Teton Wilderness' in the Absaroka but couldn't get past the lack of lakes in that range--despite the remoteness and the chance to see some country very few venture on foot. It really wasn't a difficult decision to head back to the Beartooths to cover some previously un trodden ground.
Figuring that a trip of that length would preclude everyone we'd ever hiked with before from coming along, we were ready to tackle the "Trans-Beartooth Odyssey" (name courtesy of Rebecca Jabs) by ourselves. Little did we know that we'd soon have more hikers than we knew what to do with.
First to join the group was Keith and Randy from nearby Plymouth, WI. I'd been in email contact with Keith for a while and discovered he was the younger brother of a chap I went to college with for a year. While Keith couldn't do 11 nights, he could do 5 so we planned on a back country rendezvous during the second half of mine and Bob's route. This planned to be a stroke of good luck as an additional vehicle saved my a long hitch back to Clay Butte.
I knew nothing about Randy other than he'd had knee replacement surgery in the not-to-distant past. I'd learn a little bit more.
One frigid March day at work, Bob called me into his office to tell me a story. Bob's wife, Deb, was talking to a co-worker about her recent trip out to Utah to do some volunteer work when the co-worker told her about his planned trip to the Beartooths in August with a buddy. Her curiosity aroused, Deb asked the co-worker if they were planning on meeting another pair of hikers out there? Somewhat amazed, the co-worker, replied in the affirmative. And that is how Bob discovered Randy worked with his wife.
Then, a few weeks later, Keith emailed me saying that his brother and my old classmate was intrigued by the possibility of going on a backpacking trip. After a few days I received another email from Keith saying that his brother Dan had gotten the OK to join us.
We were now up to 5.
My old pal Ward always has an open invitation to join us but when he told me he'd have to think about the summer of 2013 and get back to me I assumed he had too much family stuff going on to make it out. If anything, I thought he'd go for the July trip as it was of shorter duration. Much to my surprise, I received an email from Grandpa Ward in mid-May: he was in for August and had another friend, Peter, who wanted to come along. It seems that Peter had another trip planned but it fell through. At the time, Morgan, Ward's son, couldn't commit to a trip so we were stuck at 7 with the possibility of one more.
Holy crap..."That's a lot of guys to find places to camp" I remembered thinking at the time, but knew we'd manage.
Since Ward's crew couldn't do the 11 nights I worked my planning magic and and came up with a 6-night trip for them that would allow us to hike together for the better part of 5 days.